What happens in a Moroccan Hammam

Visiting Morocco has been a dream of mine, for quite some time now. Spending a night under the stars in the Sahara and relaxing in a Moroccan Hammam topped my list.

Hammams are traditional Moroccan bath houses that have played a significant part in Moroccan culture for centuries.  Locals visit these traditional steam rooms at least once a week for a body treatment that involves steaming, scrubbing and massaging of the skin until it glows.

As I made way down the windy town of Essaouira, searching for a Hammam, anticipation and excitement got the better of me.

Finally deciding on my Hammam parlour I walked in and was welcomed with a cup of fresh mint tea while I negotiated the price using sign language and bargaining skills I picked up over the years. Having settled on an amount, I was handed a bathrobe and pointed in the direction of a room. Quickly undressing, I slipped into a white robe and putting together a confident look (that I didn’t feel at all) I walked towards the room, not knowing whats in store for me  Pushing open the door, I stood there a minute, fascinated with sight that stood before me.  I was in a small red steam room (nothing similar to the red room thats Christian Grey’s fav).  There was a huge stone platform where the teyba (washing person) pointed towards, signalling me to lie down upon. Peeling off the bath robe and my modesty along with it and now in just my knickers, I proceeded to lie down determined to enjoy the experience. With a big smile on her face the teyba started to pour a bucket of hot water all over my body. This was followed by her rubbing the famous Moroccan black soap over me readying me for the big scrub. Knowing I was a visitor and not a regular, she went slightly gentle on my delicate skin, yet scrubbing away every dirt and grime that I never knew existed. She then shampooed my hair giving it a squeaky clean feel.

While this was a private Hammam, the real adventure would be to visit a public Hammam in the city’s medina. To ensure hygiene is maintained make sure to purchase a black soap and scrub glove from any local store to carry with you to the Hammam. This also makes for a good souvenir to take back home.

Reaching the end of my Hammam session, I gave my teyba a warm hug, used the only Arabic word I knew, Shukran and left.

As I walked towards my riad with a  big smile on my face,  I couldn’t help but run my hands over my skin enjoying the feel of the  smooth, soft skin I suddenly discovered.

Visiting a hammam in Morocco can be a truly eye-opening experience that you should not miss out on!

Tips to get the most out of your Hammam experience:

  1. In a public Hammam make sure to carry a sitting mat, black soap and scrub gloves. You can purchase this from any local shop near the Hammam
  2. In a public Hammam, you will be given a small hole in the wall for a nominal amount to safeguard your valuables. However try to carry with you only the bare necessities storing the rest at your accommodation
  3. Ensure to carry a fresh pair of knickers to slip into post the Hammam
  4. Keep in mind, Hammams are present in every medina and are segregated gender wise

 

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